Linear PCM Recorder LS-10 review

iPods are fantastic, but they’re unreliable recording devices – so if you’re searching for a dependable portable recording solution, you can’t get much better than the Olympus Linear PCM Recorder LS-10.

Why? In tests it’s an extremely effective, easily controlled and pleasingly sensitive recording device, equally at home capturing the atmosphere of a party or live performance as it is recording an interview or lecture – even when the speaker utters sentences in a whisper.

The LS-10 is extremely light and powerful. It’s packed with features, and is among the most accurate portable sound recording device we’ve used. Although suitable for anyone from student to journalist, it’s high price hints that this is really a machine for professionals where sound quality is crucial.

At its highest quality, it records WAV files in 24-bit, 96kHz Linear Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) format – twice CD quality. With stereo microphones fitted as standard, LS-10 includes line-in and external mic sockets and records at such high quality you could realistically use this to record a band rehearsal, or an individual instrument part for later mixing. As long as you weren’t recording in a noisy room, you’d get good results; and recording sensitivity is adjustable to help get decent results even in a non-ideal situation. There’s a Low Cut filter to help get rid of low-level white noise.

The LS-10 also records in MP3 and WMA (Windows Media) formats and can be used in Auto or Manual mode. You record to either the included 2GB of flash memory or to an SD card you pop into the slot. Up to 69 hours of audio can be squeezed onto the internal memory at the lowest quality setting. Transferring recordings to your Mac is only marginally more complicated than plugging in the USB cable. It ships with Cubase LE4 for mixing audio. The LS-10 could also be used as a flash drive and music player.

Accessing and configuring the device isn’t challenging, though the menu-based interface takes some getting used to. Once you’ve got the LS-10 to do what you want once or twice, operation should come naturally.

OUR VERDICT

We were impressed by the LS-10. We’d like to see Olympus continue to pay attention to the somewhat fiddly user interface. However, once you figure it out, this is the system you need whether you’re a student, a writer on assignment, or a musician trying to capture a few ideas. It’s a shame that the price will put it out of reach of some of these users.

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